Dad's Public Message to His Son Is the Definition of 'Tough Love'

dad controversy holding up sign at basketball game

If there's one thing I've learned since becoming a mom, it's that the punishment should always fit the crime child. When I was growing up, my parents both disciplined me in different ways, but certain forms of discipline just weren't effective. My mom was a stickler for the emotional plea, but my dad was a straight shooter and played no games. I could totally see him being this unnamed father whose controversial sign about his son's bad grades recently turned heads. Because, at some point, you need to take a direct approach that will reach your kid, no matter what anyone else thinks.


When I first saw this photo of a dad's bold callout to his son, Thomas, at the Cleveland Cavaliers–Charlotte Hornets game on March 24, two things came to mind: This father does not mess around, and folks are likely going to lose their sh*t over this sign.

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Dad makes controversial sign for son at basketball game

With all the public shaming that can and often does happen -- both on social media and IRL -- it's easy to see why a sign that reads, "Thomas get your grades back up and next time you'll be here. Love, Dad" might make a few parents angry, as it could be interpreted as being mean-spirited.

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Interestingly, this wasn't the only time this dad showed up at a basketball game over the weekend with a sign about his son's grades. He was also at a Houston Rockets game with a sign that read, "Thomas can you hear me now? STUDENT then ATHLETE son. In that order. Love, Dad."

Dad makes controversial sign for son at basketball game

If you're against any sort of "viral" discipline tactics, these signs might very well piss you off. But I have to admit, I'm not bothered by them.

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It's easy to pass judgments on the fly, but we don't know the entire story. Jumping to conclusions based on two signs -- without knowing what inspired this dad to make them -- isn't very fair.

I have no clue whether or not this dad has been involved in a lengthy battle trying to break down the importance of homework before extracurricular activities for his son. Maybe he's stayed up with his son trying to help him with his studies, or maybe he's even hired a tutor. Some are accusing this man of shaming his son, but rather than writing him off as a horrible guy, we might find it's worth considering that maybe this father feels his punishment will be the one that finally gets through to his kid and will hopefully inspire him to make better decisions in school.

In fact, the only thing I can gather from these signs is that this dad took time to craft them, which means thought and effort went into his decision. And, he definitely appears to know a thing or two about following through on his punishments. Pops hit up some great games with two different signs -- both of which ended in "Love, Dad" -- which shows he actually cares about his kid. That could be an indicator that this was just a dose of tough love in today's modern world: Tough Love 2.0.

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When I was a kid, there were times when I thought my dad's punishments were rude and unfair. But looking back, I'm grateful for his approach, as it was effective enough to get my attention and helped me make better decisions. And I truly hope the same goes for this dad and his son.

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